John Stonestreet –
John Stonestreet –
Zimbabwe, Burundi, Congo DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania – what do these countries have in common? In recent months almost 100 CBMC Leaders were trained in the basics of CBMC: Evangelism, Discipleship, Coaching and helping others to hear their calling in the marketplace for ministry. Paul Johnson and Patrick O’Neal as well as Jim Firnstahl joined Alex Chisanga, CBMC Africa Director, Masimba Chimwara and other leaders for times of teaching and coaching. For full stories and updates on how God is moving in the various CBMC regions in Africa, please click the link below.
God’s Hand is moving in the Middle East–specifically in Dubai, UAE. Recently Jim had the opportunity to meet with Christian Business and Professionals there regarding the opportunity of establishing CBMC in this marketplace country. During the CBMC event held there recently, Jim had the privilege of praying with three people who chose to follow Jesus. Please pray for these bold and courageous men and women as they establish teams and begin to look for opportunities for evangelism in their spheres of influence. We will keep you up to date as we are able.
Following the CBMC National Convention in Zimbabwe, Jim traveled to South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town). During his time in Johannesburg, he shared with many CBMC Teams for a time of encouragement and training. He also had an opportunity to share during an outreach event of 40 participants with three decisions for Christ. We praise the Lord for His work through CBMC.
Before leaving South Africa, Jim traveled to Cape Town to meet with Leaders and Teams there. Please continue to pray for these teams and leaders – their heart’s desire is to reach the whole community of Cape Town (black and white) as well as develop a strategy for Young Professionals.
CBMC Zimbabwe started in 2007 with the support and encouragement of CBMCers from South Africa. Today, they have three teams with 12 “Pauls” and 20 “Timothys.” Several weeks ago Jim traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe for the 1st CBMC National Convention. The time of CBMC Training, worship, prayer and fellowship was an encouragement to the teams. Forty men and women were able to attend — with one new person making a commitment to follow Jesus. God is good! It is a blessing for us to be a part of His work for the Kingdom. Please continue to pray for these brothers and sisters that they would be bold for Christ in a country that sees turmoil both politically and economically. A few photos from our time together:
Recently Jim and Emily Firnstahl traveled to Japan (specifically Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo) to meet and encourage the CBMC Teams in each city. While there Jim spoke to 5 groups, including an large outreach event in Tokyo with our new CBMC Japan Chairman, Aoki. God blessed and two people proclaimed faith in Christ during this event. This is exciting as Japan’s population is less than 1% Christian. Ten people joined CBMC and doubled the number of teams in Tokyo! We praise the Lord for His faithfulness in calling people to Him.
Please pray for the CBMC Teams in Japan — as they plan for the Japan National Prayer Meeting Events in 2019. They are hoping to make this time (June 11-12, 2019) an opportunity for outreach and CBMC Training. More details will follow in the coming months. A few photos from the recent events/meetings:
Malawi Vision Casting and Connect3Training – After earlier attempt to establish CBMC in Malawi, CBMC Africa once again went to Malawi for the country’s vision cast which took place in Zomba town on the 28th April 2018. We had 30 signed up for CBMC.
2018 World Convention, Belfast, Northern Ireland – Listen as Steve Trice, Chairman of Jasco Products, located in Oklahoma City, OK, USA shares how his business strategy allows the company to give 50% of their profits away each year.
Eric Metaxas – Many members of Generation Z are choosing justice over the gospel, but they don’t have to. They can choose both.
Generation Z—roughly those young people born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s—is known for a lot of things: its technological savvy, its commitment to social justice, its loneliness, its online connectedness, and its seemingly endless quest for “authenticity.” One thing it’s not as known for is a commitment to gospel proclamation and traditional evangelical doctrines.
Writing about these “young evangelicals who have ‘expanded their mission’ to include social justice along with evangelism,” pastor and author Tim Keller says, “Many of them have not only turned away from older forms of ministry, but also from traditional evangelical doctrines of Jesus’s substitutionary atonement and of justification by faith alone, which are seen as too ‘individualistic.’”
And for all the good they’re doing—and they are—Generation Z Christians have become unbalanced. That’s not old fogeys like me or Tim Keller talking; it’s coming from one of their own: Jaquelle Crowe, the author of “This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.”
Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Crowe says, “The fundamental problem is that we’ve created a false dichotomy. When you pit justice and gospel against each other, you miss the point of the Bible and devalue God’s heart for both. Justice fits squarely in the framework of biblical Christianity. It flows fiercely out of the gospel as a practical implication of loving God.”
John Stonestreet, my colleague, has talked a lot about truth and love not being in opposition. And he’s exactly right. As the letter of James reminds us, what good is it to say, “Stay warm,” without giving someone a blanket? That is how we can begin bringing balance back to the gospel.
Pointing to the shining examples of William Wilberforce, Hannah More, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Crowe says we need a biblical balance not of justice or the gospel, but of justice and the gospel. But Crowe goes a step farther. She says we need to make the gospel our priority, because only a right understanding of the human predicament before heaven will power our passion for justice on earth.
“If we want to live out justice the way God commands and celebrates,” Crowe says, “we must prioritize the gospel. If we truly want to see human flourishing and reduce global suffering, we need to deal with the biggest problem humanity faces: sin and death.” She’s right, and because you’ve heard plenty from me about Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce, let me point out another example.
William Carey was an 18th-century cobbler-turned-minister who heard God’s call to go to India and became known as the “father of modern missions.” Urging his fellow Presbyterians to care about the lost, Carey said, “Multitudes sit at ease and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry.”
But Carey’s concern for the lost didn’t stop with their souls—far from it! Besides translating the Bible into many Indian languages, Carey was instrumental in banning the Hindu practices of sati—which is widow-burning—along with infanticide and assisted suicide. He lived out a personal philosophy that any Christian can get behind: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God!”
Jaquelle Crowe would agree, saying, “We need justice operated out of gospel love,” adding, “That’s what Jesus did. He drew water for the thirsty and told them about the Living Water that could eternally satisfy. He served food to the hungry and preached about the Bread of Life.”
Thank God for Generation Z Christians who are passionate about justice, and for Jaquelle Crowe, a young woman who knows that justice and the gospel go together and who is bold enough to call her generation—Generation Z—to own all of the gospel.
Eric Metaxas – There’s been much disparaging of “thoughts and prayers” lately. But I’ll tell you why prayer is good for you and for the world.
Want to enrage a secularist? Well, the next time there’s a natural disaster or national tragedy, such as another mass shooting, you can say that your “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims. They seem to hate that, and say that “thoughts and prayers” are not sufficient unless you also do something tangible, like passing a law. Well, I don’t know how effective sending thoughts is, but I can guarantee you that prayer, as Jesus said, can move mountains.
And it’s not just me saying this. Clay Routledge, a professor and psychological scientist, points to “the tested psychological and social benefits of prayer as well as the reality of how most believers turn to faith-based practices in addition to, not instead of, other courses of action.”
Let me share some of this good news about prayer. First, it’s associated with well-being and health. In one study of older adults, the negative effects of financial problems on one’s health were significantly reduced for people who pray regularly for others. For those who perceive of God as loving instead of as distant and unresponsive, prayer produces psychological benefits. People whose prayers centered on gratitude and care for others had the fewest symptoms of depression. I love that! Prayer is good medicine.
But does prayer actually do anything? Or is it, as our critics say, merely a distraction? Well, for starters, Routledge says that prayer “frees up cognitive resources needed to focus on mental tasks by reducing the extent to which people are distracted by negative emotions.” It also reduces alcohol consumption, helps promote a person’s value of sacrifice, and strengthens one’s relationships. Prayer even makes you happier!
And prayer doesn’t lessen one’s belief in science or medical treatment. As Routledge says, “For most believers, prayer isn’t a substitute for data-based solutions. It is a personal resource that complements and may even help facilitate other thoughtful action.”
One of my heroes, the great William Wilberforce, accomplished more “thoughtful action” than most, as the key figure in abolishing the British slave trade. But Wilberforce was also a man of prayer—prayer that fueled his faith in Jesus and compelled him to act for the good of his fellow man. It was Wilberforce who said, “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”
Maybe just maybe there’s a connection between Wilberforce’s “thoughtful action” and his humble prayer to our Savior.
I have more good news about prayer. Jesus invites us to come to His Father in prayer, and there we will find answers. “Ask,” He promises, “and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Now will we always receive precisely what we have sought? No, of course not! Every responsible father gives his children not all that they want, but all they truly need—and our loving heavenly Father is no exception. Prayer opens the pantry of God’s provision.
The best part—prayer takes our focus off ourselves and places it where it belongs—on God Himself. And in so doing we are changed, for the better.
So the next time someone says you should do more than pray, remember this insight from Adoniram Gordon, the founder of Gordon College: “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” Amen!
Prayer is no small thing, as Eric highlights. The apostle Paul encouraged believers to “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).